Pittsburgh at Duke
Saturday, 9:20 am PT
CRIS Opener: Duke -8 O/U 50
CRIS Current: Duke -8 O/U 50
It’s been a tough road for Duke's offense the past three weeks having faced three of the ACC’s best defenses. After racking up 425.3 ypg and 40.5 ppg over their first four contests, Duke’s offense has been reduced to just 306.3 ypg and 12.3 ppg after playing Miami, Virginia and Florida State. Despite the offensive struggles, Duke’s defense was able to keep two of those contests competitive but the 0-3 SU and 0-2-1 ATS results leave them feeling a sense of urgency to get a win. Pittsburgh’s 14th ranked ACC defense may be the perfect elixir here since the Panthers have given up at least 446 yards and 27 points in four of its last five games.
Pittsburgh’s offense meanwhile is in their second straight game with backup quarterback Ben DiNucci taking over as the starter after Max Browne went down with a season ending injury. DiNucci has seen snaps in every game this season but as the starter last week he went 19-of-32, 170 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT against the stingy NC State defense. It doesn’t get any easier as the Duke defense is fourth in the ACC at just 312.9 ypg allowed. The fundamental matchups look poor for Pittsburgh across the board in this one mainly due to their ineffectiveness at the line of scrimmage. On the season Pitt has a yards per rush average of -1.5 which figures to be a real problem against the Blue Devils stout and aggressive front line.
Unlike last season, Pittsburgh is not equipped with a potent running game or an accurate passer at QB. Last season’s offense under the direction of ex-OC Matt Canada kept teams off balance and created plenty of spacing on the field for explosive plays. Here, the ground game will likely be overwhelmed by Duke’s defense which should also cause fits (20 sacks this season & allowing just 53.6% completions) for DiNucci. On the other side, expect Duke to find running lanes that they haven’t seen in three weeks against the Panthers 87th ranked run defense. It’s been difficult for Duke’s receivers to get free from the talented secondaries they’ve faced recently but Pitt’s secondary (111th ranked pass defense) plus lack of pass rush (only 9 sacks this season) should allow the Blue Devils passing game to flourish here. Look for dual threat quarterback Daniel “The Truth” Jones to guide Duke to a very productive offensive afternoon while the defense limits Pitt to 17 points or less. Have to lay the -8 here with Duke which will be fully focused on getting a convincing win knowing that a slip up, plus a date at Virginia Tech next week could derail their season.